Challenges Give Pols Chance to Show Courage

Long Island has faced many challenges in recent years.

Sandy hit our seashore communities hard and to this day, we have not fully recovered. But during the next six months, the Island will be confronted with other issues that may well decide whether this region can stay economically alive and well.

It’s hard to pick which challenge should be at the top of the list,but I will start with the future of the Islanders hockey team.

The move to Brooklyn away from the Nassau Coliseum was the result of a lot of political bungling.

The county lost the opportunity to keep the team here by dragging its feet on development of the Coliseum site.

Developer Charles Wang may have been asking for too much when he proposed his massive development of the site, but Hempstead town officials resisted doing anything and in the end, they chased the Islanders away.

Regardless of whether you are a fan of Wang he was dedicated to keeping the team here but faced with empty seats in an aging arena, is not a good business deal and it was only a matter of team before Wang gave up and moved the team to Brooklyn. Brooklyn has turned out to be a horror show for hockey seating and now the Islander’s new owners want out.

The new Islander owners are successful people in the world of finance and they don’t believe in losing a lot of money on their team.

As a last resort, they have set their sights on Belmont Race Track, which is run by the Racing Association. There is ample room at the track to erect a brand new arena which could accommodate upwards of 18,000 fans or more.

The team owners will be making a proposal to build an arena at Belmont and if that proposal is turned down, they have options.

The first and worst option is to move the team to another city where the local governments would do anything possible to bring professional hockey to their town.

New York State has never treated the Belmont track with any respect.

As far back as the 1960s there were proposals to put a dome over the track for year round racing and events.

The Racing Association has not given Belmont much love either.

Racing at Saratoga in upstate New York is very lucrative for the state and Belmont comes in third with the Aqueduct track in second place.

Any user of the Queens track will tell you it is a dump, but it adjoins the casino in Queens and big money for the state clouds the vision of the politicians.

So if the state plays too much politics and tells the current owners of the Islanders to go away there is a good chance that the Islanders could wind up in some far away city.

The next issue the island faces is whether companies like Uber and Lyft should be allowed to operate in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

To start with, both counties would gain enormous financial benefits if these ride-sharing companies were allowed to operate here.

From my perspective, there are more reasons for them to operate here then there are arguments against it.

Local taxi companies are vehemently against having them here but what about the consumer?

Nassau County’s bus system doesn’t reach every important area of the county and an Uber or a Lyft would be a big break for people who need to get to work or keep a doctor’s appointment.

Drunk driving accidents dominate the local news because there needs to be a service that will keep young drivers off the road.

As the father of four daughters, I would feel a lot better if they could take a ride sharing company, rather than getting a ride with some young untested friend.

The last and most potent issue the region faces is the proposed Third Track project for the Long Island Rail Road.

The island desperately needs to have better service and access to Penn Station and Grand Central.

Our young people are fleeing this area for a lot of reasons, but easy access to the city is their No. 1 need.

Plus, the new scaled down version of the Third Track proposal will bring millions of dollars in local improvements to villages from Queens to Hicksville.

Local and state officials will have a chance to show their courage in the months ahead and move forward on all of these challenges.

Not everyone will be happy but progress helps more people than it hurts.

 

To read the original article on The Island Now, click here.

 

Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer Discusses the Financial Impact of Free College Tuition

On Bond Buyer’s latest podcast, Arthur ‘Jerry’ Kremer discusses the New York State free college tuition plan. Even though the plan appears to be beneficial in theory, Kremer states that it actually contains several flaws that will only damage the small private college sector in the long run.
To listen to the full podcast, click here.

In Trump World, It’s about Relevance, Reluctance and Russia

People frequently ask me to explain what’s going on in Washington, because every day is a jumble of bad news. Whether it’s the tweets from the president, the battles between Democrats and Republicans in Congress or the allegations of campaign misconduct, seemingly every report contributes to unhappiness and general disgust with the political process. I try to make it simpler by referring to them as the three R’s.

The first R is for “relevant.” President Trump has done such a good job of stepping on his own toes that it’s impossible to predict what he will do or say next. His daily contradictions confuse everyone, and his incessant battles with the press have reduced him to the size of a statuette. What Trump is learning is what Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton learned during their presidencies about how presidents do or do not stay relevant.

Carter was handicapped by one misfortune after another. Some of his closest confidantes got into criminal trouble, and the antics of his brother Billy made him almost invisible. Month after month, Carter had to remind the outside world that he was still the president and was owed the loyalty of the country.

Clinton, in 1995, found himself eclipsed by then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose Contract with America clouded the president’s message. It seemed that the House of Representatives had a very specific agenda, and Clinton looked bewildered in his efforts to be thought of as the commander in chief. At one of his news conferences, he stated, “I am still relevant and the Constitution makes me relevant.”

President Trump’s challenge, after he finishes his overseas trip, will be to give people a reason to take him seriously on anything he says. The conflicting statements from him and his media staff are driving everyone crazy. His original spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, has been assigned to other duties because the television networks don’t want her on as a guest anymore. Sean Spicer is a household name now, thanks in no small part to Melissa McCarthy, but he’s taking a lot of flak in the White House and may disappear very soon into the West Wing basement.

In the weeks ahead, the president will be bombarded by daily leaks from every intelligence agency that he has insulted. The drip, drip, drip may make him retreat into hiding, and no doubt by July 1 the world may wonder whether Trump is still relevant as a leader.

The second R stands for Russia. No matter how many times the subject comes up, the president bashes it as fake news. The charges that his campaign staff colluded with Russia were answered at the outset with, “It didn’t happen,” and now Trump says, “Others may have done it, but not me.” Whether or not you want to believe that Russia was involved in our election, it doesn’t matter. The investigation, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, has become a criminal one.

The third R is for “reluctant.” You can count on your fingers the number of Republican members of Congress who have been willing to criticize Trump. One member described his actions as too “dramatic.” A few say the president is being “distracted” from accomplishing anything while in office. But to their shame, no one has told him directly, in so many words, that it’s time to grow up and do the job.

Why are Republican senators and House members so reluctant to criticize their own leader? One reason is that Republicans live and die as a unit. Internally, they may hate one another, but they’re sticking together so they can kill Obamacare and pass a package of big tax cuts for the rich. Health care and tax cuts are tied together because the savings realized by harming poor people will be translated into big dollars for the very wealthy.

So it’s really quite simple. When anyone asks you what in the world is going on in the nation’s capital, just recite the three R’s.

Published on May 25th, 2017.

 

Click here to view the original article on LI Herald.

Many Elephants Needed To Tame Trump

In the next few weeks, the famous Ringling Bros. circus will cease to exist, ending a history that dates back to 1884.

The circus has provided fun and excitement to millions of youngsters, but it incurred the wrath of animal rights advocates and that was enough to put it out of business.

The big question now is what will happen to all those elephants that have entertained in the center ring?

Happily, many of them will be sent to animal sanctuaries and zoos. But others may be homeless and that is a dilemma that can be solved.

There are a lot of places that the elephants can go, but Washington D.C. is probably the best place.

No matter where you look whether it’s the Oval office, the Senate or the House, there is a need for more proverbial elephants in the room to act as a reminder of unfinished business and the chaos that has made our nation’s capital a real animal house.

Let’s start with the President’s office. There are probably a dozen or so that could occupy the space as a reminder of failed immigration policies, a lack of a real health care policy, a failure to propose a national infrastructure plan,potential conflicts of interest  and a so-called tax revision proposal.

Each and every one of those elephants in the room would serve as a stark reminder that President Trump still doesn’t have a clue about how to govern.

Thanks to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, there is a need for another elephant to remind the President that aggravating the intelligence community is a proven way to get booted out of office.

Over in the House of Representatives, a real health care plan, not the one they passed, requires at least one elephant.

That same animal would be a stark reminder that the administration in power loses seats in the mid term elections unless it cleans up its act. With three factions in the Republican House, the future looks pretty bleak.

The House could have gotten a new health-care bill passed if an effort was made to woo some Democrats, but instead the leadership got into bed with the Freedom Caucus and all they got for the experience is screaming town hall meetings and other headaches.

The elephant over in the Senate has to be the shadow of President Trump, creating daily chaos in the country.

Just when things were settling down, the President gave new credibility to the claims about Russian interference in the recent election.

By firing the FBI Director, with no notice to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the President has made each day just a little harder for the senators, who are trying to stay on good terms with the President.

Can you imagine being a U.S. Senator and seeing the President welcoming Russia’s leaders to his office, at the same time that Mr. Trump is denying any cozy relationship with Russia?

At least one elephant can be parked in Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office.

That elephant symbolizes last year’s failed election, which cost the Democrats the White House and the chance to run the Senate.

The Democrats need to regain the confidence of the millions of people who abandoned them in the 2016 election and voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The party needs a message that resonates with blue-collar voters and formally loyal voters, who abandoned them.

There is an old adage that “an elephant never forgets.”

However, in the case of our national government, the new crop of elephants in the room is a brutal reminder that our government is in a state of continuing chaos and the business of the people remains untouched and unfinished.

Published May 18th, 2017.

 

Click here to read the full article on The Island Now.

Longing For A Sense of Normalcy Under Trump

I’m addicted to watching shows like “House of Cards,” “Veep,” ”Homeland” and “Madame Secretary.” In some way, each episode depicts the real life that we political junkies are living. However, the Washington, D.C., of today has become a more riveting experience because you never know what will happen next in the real world, and I am close to jumping ship and abandoning fiction for fact.

Kevin Spacey is a great president on “House of Cards.” His periodic asides, giving you the unvarnished truth, are often on the mark. At times when Spacey speaks, I imagine him as President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was cunning and knew exactly how to manipulate the politicos around him. Spacey’s wife, played by Robin Penn, in some ways emulates a real presidential spouse who would rather do something meaningful with her life than be a dutiful presidential wife.

The show “Madame Secretary” appears to be an honest portrayal of what it is like to be a secretary of state and often comes up with plots that weeks later occur in real life. The show “Veep” gives a tongue-in-cheek vision of the challenges of being a vice president. Even though the late Vice President James Garner, who served under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said his job “isn’t worth a bucket of spit,” television brings the role alive and shows that vice presidents really do matter.

In its early years, the show “Homeland” had many scenes that kept you on the edge of your seat because they were so scary. From time to time, a scene from “Homeland” would almost predict what our next foreign-policy crisis would be. But all of these shows pale by comparison to the drama that we are experiencing in the world of Donald Trump.

The president was sworn in on Jan. 20, and hardly a day has gone by since then without a news story about him or members of his team. At times, the daily Trump happenings are so distracting that your first impulse is to turn off the TV. How many tweets does it take before the average citizen concludes that Washington is not only dysfunctional but also is run by a bunch of dummies? We all have important things to do. Who needs immature rants from anyone who has power over our lives?

There isn’t one president in the past 50 years who was wrapped up in so many investigative headaches so early in his tenure. Sooner or later, every president experiences his share of grief, but nothing like the amount of intrigue that we have experienced under Trump so far. Between the president’s childish comments and the backroom antics of his inner circle, a number of voters must be thinking that we should redo the November election, but we might very well get the same result.

Any imaginary president can create accidental crises that hurt our relationships with our overseas allies, but nothing can top Trump’s meddling in foreign affairs so poorly that it creates a crisis in the Arab world and a feud with Qatar, where we have a key military base.

Almost every president brings along family members to the White House, and they make a conscious effort to shield them from press scrutiny. This president assigns his adult children offices in the White House and denigrates them by ignoring many of their suggestions.

Historical shows like “The Borgias” keep you riveted to the TV, but they usually end up with a family member being poisoned, which only happens in North Korea these days. Trump’s adult children have become an annoying distraction, and in the case of son-in-law Jared Kushner, he could be the target of a serious investigation if the allegations about his meddling turn out to be true.

So, for now, I’m abandoning Netflix and my favorite political shows. The drama in Washington is much more interesting than my regular television watching. I hope that one day things settle down, and with or without Trump, the country returns to normal.

Published on June 16th, 2017.

 

Click here to find the original article on the LI Herald.